Who am I?

I was raised on the land of the K’ómoks First Nation. Today I live, work, and play on the land of the Lekwungen peoples, and the Songhees, Esquimalt, and WSÁNEĆ peoples. I am a settler of English and Scottish descent, and I strive to be an effective ally (VERB) in the project of decolonization.

I recognize also my intersecting privileges, and the tension that exists in striving to do disruptive work within institutional frameworks.

Baylee smiles with her lips together and her pink/blonde hair in a braid. The left side of her head is shaved, and she wears gold cat eye glasses with a rainbow blazer.

My name is Baylee Woodley. I am a Masters (MA) student in Art History and Visual Studies at the University of Victoria.

My MA project brings together tools from Art History and Digital Humanities. It explores lesbian representation in premodern France, and digital possibilities for queer ‘hirstory’ creation.

It is part of my life-long project to support the creation of queer art hirstories that are relevant, accessible, intersectional, and validating to contemporary queer communities and individuals.

When I am not seeking premodern lesbians, I can be found:

  • Running (normally with my family and my dogs)
  • Performing drag/burlesque as the witchy dyke Burnina Sparks
  • Pouring as much love as possible (and receiving just as much) all over my family and queer, sparkly community
  • and finally, reading Sarah Waters and re-watching Carol like any rigorous lesbian hirstorian

What Am I Doing Here?

Always changing, first of all. My research will fluctuate as I adapt to contemporary needs and engage with new ideas. Though my degrees (thankfully) progress, my research will seem most successful to me if it itself is never stagnant.

This website exists to make my research process as accessible and transparent as possible. I welcome all respectful, constructive feedback and communication through my email.

I want this hirstory to be useful to contemporary lesbian-identifying women, femmes, and non-binary babes (this is a NO TERFs zone!), and to the queer community as a whole. Our “collective memories” (or “shared histories”) can contribute to a sense of identity — and they can encourage our own creative expressions!

A little more on that note…

Like all histories, not all of queer history is celebratory, and it is certainly not cohesive. Histories of condemnation and exclusion by oppressive majorities and between queer communities also exist.

Both the glittery and the bleak fragments of queer hirstory should be discussed and made available so that we can remediate them and move forward with knowledge of our intersecting legacies.*

Understanding how queer folx have been ‘imagined’/constructed and how they lived in the past can help us advocate for ourselves in the present.

Our identities are intersectional. As we work to create our own interpretive methods we are disrupting dominant systemic, colonial models. We cannot talk about queer hirstories without addressing racism, colonialism, ageism, ableism, transphobia, sexism, discrimination against sex-workers, and homophobia. These forms of discrimination all impact members of the queer community. Our intersecting identities also give “queering” its broad, powerful, and adaptable potential.

*A book that has prompted me to think more deeply about this lately is Inside Killjoy’s Kastle, edited by Allyson Mitchell and Cait McKinney, and published by UBC Press in 2019.

What Has My Process Been?

  1. Searching! When I began, that was all I was doing. I needed to know where the premodern Lesbians were — who they were, what I could call them. Finding visuals of lesbian-like intimacy and queer women’s bodies from the premodern period means a lot of patient searching. It also means deciding what “qualifies” as “queer” in the premodern period.
  2. Contextualizing and analysis! Once I find each image I work to collect as much information about where it comes from as possible — and I do my own formal and social analysis. Especially, I am interested in the material and visual features that would have guided engagement and knowledge creation with the objects I study.
  3. Queering and Digitizing! What can be achieved by mindfully bringing premodern art works into a digital, accessible, and queer environments? What methods should we use?
    I am still working on this part! What I believe, though, is that Digital Humanities offers us unique potential to gather, reclaim, and remediate objects as part of queer art hirstories. Digital environments have their own structural features that guide engagement and knowledge production — how can we make those features ‘queer’? What would make engagement pleasurable for contemporary queer audiences?

Who Holds Me Accountable?

  • My supervisor, Professor Catherine Harding
  • My queer family here in Victoria, BC (and hopefully internationally!)
  • You! I welcome all constructive, thoughtful feedback and ideas
  • My academic colleagues (locally and internationally) — I want to be held to the highest academic standard so that I only share with you quality, reliable work
  • Myself. This work is near and dear to my lesbian heart.